Apr 172015
 

1211229_while-were-young-trailer

Just a few days ago I was discussing, with associates of mine, the possible correlation of maturity levels and fashionable hat wearing. Not in an abstract way, but in relation to the hat-wearing (and discarding) of friends and associates. In Noah Baumbach’s While We’re Young, the fashionable hat becomes one of many symbols relating to life decisions and one’s relationship to the Self. It was a little bit spooky. For a great many people the film will be filled with such astonishingly direct reflections of their own lives. Perhaps it is only astonishing because Western commercial cinema so rarely bothers or dares to come down to the streets and hang with the ‘real’ world. But While We’re Young stretches beyond the confines of both the rom-com and the mid-life crisis film, refusing to merely be enjoyable and relatable (that newly toxic term). It is hilarious, engaging and an absolute pleasure to watch, but it is far more than that. Writer/director Noah Baumbach beautifully weaves the everyday lives of his characters into a complicated and engaging contemplation of what constitutes truth, reality and experience that can easily be described as academic, for those so inclined. Please forget old prejudices against such a term, for critical theory is rarely utilised with such delicate aplomb, fused to the organic development of characters so that all of its parts feel necessary and absolutely right.

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Apr 152015
 

it follows

In cinemas this week: It Follows, While We’re Young, The Age of Adaline, The Gunman and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.

It Follows tells the story of pretty 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), who finds herself plagued by strange visions and a pursuing supernatural force after a seemingly innocent sexual confrontation. She learns from her boyfriend, the transmitter, that this mysterious entity will kill her if it catches her, unless she can pass it on to someone else before that happens. If she succeeds and that person is killed, she will become the target again. Jay enlists her sister and friends to help her escape the ever-present horror and find a way to rid herself from it forever. It is the indie hit of 2015 in the US, expanding to 1000+ screens after a successful limited release. It is an intelligent, accomplished feat of claustrophobic horror filmmaking with the capacity to transcend the cinema environment, get under a viewer’s skin and continue to terrify long after the credits. Has a terrific giallo-throwback score too. Full review at the link.

While We’re Young – Noah Boaumbach’s new comedy stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as Josh and Cornelia, a childless New York married couple in their mid-forties. As their other friends all start having children, the couple gravitates toward a young hipster couple named Jamie (Adam Driver) and Darby (Amanda Seyfried). He’s an aspiring documentary filmmaker, a vocation Josh already has. Soon the older couple begins enjoying the energy they feel hanging out with the younger generation, but eventually Josh begins to suspect his new best friend might not be as straightforward and trustworthy as he thought. Baumbach (Greenberg, Frances Ha) still hasn’t made a bad film, and Stiller sure is at his best in this partnership. This is such a funny and relatable study of the differences between Gen X and Y – and I found myself uncomfortably familiar with both couples.

The Age of Adaline – After miraculously remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker) threatens to uncover the truth, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever. It is directed by Lee Toland Krieger, who directed the excellent Celeste and Jesse Forever. Sam, in her review, suggests to “embrace the silliness and the romance of the premise, and this film is surprisingly entertaining.”

The Gunman – A sniper on a mercenary assassination team, kills the minister of mines of the Congo. Terrier’s successful kill shot forces him into hiding. Returning to the Congo years later, he becomes the target of a hit squad himself. Great cast – Sean Penn, Idris Elba and Javier Bardem – but this is reportedly very bad. Directed by Pierre Morel (Taken) this looks out of place in an already-stacked aging action hero genre.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 – After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart has earned a well-deserved vacation. He heads to Vegas with his teenage daughter before she heads off to college. But safety never takes a holiday and when duty calls, Blart answers. How many times can we watch Kevin James fall over?

Weekly Recommendation: It Follows and While We’re Young are two of our favourites of the year so far.